I spent the spring semester of 2010 studying in New Zealand through the ISEP program. I used this blog to keep an account of my school experience and as a record of the adventures I found. Hopefully it can serve two purposes: to have kept my friends and family informed of my travels and experiences; as well as to serve as a reminder of how important the study abroad experience is, whether it's in New Zealand or not.

20 June 2010

Easter Break - Thursday 15/4/10 - Dunedin to Timaru

We start our morning with a trip downtown to the museum. We only have so many coins and so much time to get through the museum and pay for the meter. So we plan a short visit. I’m once again majorly impressed by the Kiwi ability to design a museum that never stops pulling you in. We both get majorly caught up and decide to put one more dollar in the meter. However, we end up separating and that causes us to leave the museum almost an hour after we originally planned. Now we’ll be pushing it to make it to Christchurch by night time and I have to cut out a visit to Sandy. However, we do have enough time for one quick stop to the steepest paved street. This is the kind of road you would never want to drive up or down, without the danger of your car falling down the hillside. We walk up and take a look around, admiring the work that must have gone into this road. But we only get so much time before we have to hit the road again. We get to drive though Palmerston on the way, which makes me think about Palmerston North and how soon I’ll have to be back there learning and working again. But it’s almost hard to imagine now with all the amazing things I’m seeing and doing. It’ll be the final semester push when I get back and I’ll have to be working nonstop to get it all done. Our next stop is to the lighthouse and boulders of Moeraki. Just before coming here I read a book by Keri Hulme called The Bone People it was about a woman who had a house built like a tower and Keri supposedly used the lighthouse as inspiration, so I figure it’s worth a visit, but I have no idea what I’m in for. First off, it’s way, way off the main road. But this proves to be quite worthwhile. We decide to walk out to the penguin hide, not so much because we believe we’ll see anything, but to look at the ocean. However, we’re surprised to find the rocks covered in seals. They’re stretching and looking quite happy, basking in the little bits of sun. Once in the penguin hide we look out to find another giant seal lying happily on the beach. After just a few minutes of looking we get another couple of visitors. Out of the ocean emerge several yellow eyed penguins. We watch a couple of them wander up the hillside together and one seems to take guard at the top. After a while several more come out of the water to join them. Eventually they all disappear into the bushes and we decide it’s time we took off, we took quite a detour getting here, but I think it’s very worthwhile since I’ve wanted to see penguins the whole time. I’ve seen them in a zoo before, but there really is something wonderful about seeing an animal just hanging out in its natural environment. Our final stop along the way is a little further down at the Moeraki boulders. These are fairly famous rocks, though we only manage to catch them when the tide is high, so there’s little to see. But the Maori legend tells of how they got to be there. Many years ago, when the first sons of the gods came to inhabit the islands, they came by boat with many eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara. A storm came and destroyed their ships. The backs of the ships became the Southern Alps and the food baskets became the boulders you see along the beach. What’s interesting geologically about these rocks is that they were formed like pearls. Meaning, the inside started first and they grew outward. They are hidden beneath the beach and are exposed with coastal erosion. They are also almost all entirely spherical, something quite alien to see along the beach. By the time we’ve seen it all we realize we’ll never make it to Christchurch before it’s just too late to want to keep driving so we decide we’ll make it to Timaru and stay there for the night. Once we’re there, we locate a hostel quickly and settle in for the night.

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